Each of us is responsible for how much we eat, but research suggests that cultural and social norms can make it hard to choose appropriate portion sizes. Just in time for the holiday season, the November 2007 issue of Harvard Women’s Health Watch looks into how misperceptions about portions can affect calorie intake.
Harvard Women’s Health Watch notes that we tend to treat portions as equivalent to nutritional servings. A serving is a specific quantity of food designated on the basis of nutritional need. However, a portion—the amount you actually get on your plate, in the package, or at the counter—is often much bigger. We don’t always read the Nutrition Facts label, and may end up eating two or three servings’ worth. Studies suggest that we might be satisfied with smaller portions if bigger ones weren’t so easily available. Other research has shown that the more plentiful the food, the more we eat.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.